Web Design Trends In 2021
Think of the number of websites you visit each day. Whether they are already familiar to you or you’re exploring them for the first time, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. You’ll see what you like and what you don’t.
You’ll know who has put the effort in and who relies on templates without making any – or many – changes to them.
Just as you’ll know what you’re looking at, so too will many other web visitors. We spend so much time online that it’s becoming easier to spot good sites that the owners have put work into, especially when compared to bland, non-creative sites.
You can entice the number of visitors you’ll want and need to your site. It’s crucial to make it look as good as possible, which means keeping up with the web design trends when it comes to UX.
2020 vs. 2021: What Changed?
Don’t assume that just because your creativity soared in 2020 and you paid attention to all the newest web design trends back then that your site is going to remain relevant and modern just a year later.
Changes come about all the time, and because they are digital, they can disappear overnight.
One of those changes is AI.
2021 has already shown that AI can easily be more commercially viable. Take GPT-3, for example, which has used the entirety of Wikipedia to ‘learn’ how to produce human-sounding text.
GPT-3 can be used throughout an entire business, and specifically on websites, to engage customers. It can even lie, which is perhaps not something you would want for your website though. It is undoubtedly fascinating and is a new addition to AI that shows just how far we have come in web design trends.
Apart from the specifics of AI, the general design of websites has changed too. 2020 was, we can all agree, a bad year for the most part.
So in 2021, the modern trends for web design are brighter and calmer, with some neutral colors and even a sense of fun. We’re leaving the pessimism of 2020 behind and entering 2021, which, we hope, is going to be better.
A more optimistic feeling is running through everything, and when you browse the web, you’ll see it in many of the sites you visit.
Another excellent website design trend is about looking to the past, perhaps in another attempt to get away from the problems that 2020 brought us.
Retro fonts and colors are making a comeback, and when there is an added modern twist such as the GPT-3 program as we discussed earlier, you’ll have the best of both worlds.
List of the Top 2021 Web Design Trends
Many businesses found they could no longer continue, but others could continue and even grow with a change of direction and a new web design.
Still, more entrepreneurs decided that it was just the right time to start a new eCommerce business. For the momentum to continue into 2021 and beyond, it’s wise to see what web design trends you can implement.
Read on to discover what some of the biggest changes are, so you can use them where you can and what the future of web design has to offer.
Retro, Bold, Custom, Oversized Typography
The font selection on the web wasn’t always as varied as it is now. Over the years, more fonts became readily available. Still, it is only recently – thanks mainly to the many free design tools to be found online – that it has been possible for online businesses to produce their proprietary fonts.
Use the font you’ve created in all your branding, such as your logo, paperwork, uniforms, marketing, and more, and it will soon be something associated with you and you alone.
Although it has been possible to create your fonts for a little while now, it was in 2020 that the trend really took off and could be seen more readily. These strange and unusual new fonts were one way to capture attention and make people smile.
Rather than reading, people scan. During the research on how people read websites, it was found that 79% of the test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16% read word-by-word.
This means that the font you choose and deploy throughout your brand must embrace the idea of scanning.
By using bold fonts in places where you want people to stop scanning and start reading, you can focus their attention, and this UI trend is something you’ll begin to see on many different websites.
In other words, the typography of your site – different fonts, bold, even using oversized fonts – should be used to highlight the essential elements of what you’re saying.
And of course, it’s not just about the words used and how they look. Another trend to bear in mind in 2021 is the use of negative space.
Negative or whitespace is the emptiness between all the visual elements on your webpage.
Using the whitespace (doesn’t necessarily need to be white) on your website to highlight what you want your visitors to know is an excellent way to ensure your content is digested in the right way. Your site doesn’t become cluttered and too uncomfortable for anyone to spend much time on.
By using negative space in your titles rather than the body of your text, you will immediately improve readability.
The best fonts to use when utilizing the white space on your website are serif fonts, so try this idea and see what works for your design and layout.
Emojis might be the furthest thing from your mind when you are coming up with a new website design, but when browsing web design trends for 2021, you’ll find that emojis are taking their place with the more traditional ideas.
Communication is key within your business. If you want your business website to communicate your message effectively, you need to put yourself in the shoes of those reading your site. How do they communicate in everyday life?
For many, the answer is emojis.
Emojis are an excellent shorthand form of visual communication, allowing even more complex messages to be sent, received, and understood in moments.
And with people constantly using their phones and tablets to interact with one another, seeing an emoji on a website is not going to be out of place – for the most part. The fact that emojis are such a popular form of communication hasn’t been lost on web designers who use them more and more in their ideas.
Not only are they modern and current, but using emojis also means that you can cater to the majority of visitors, even if your site is not in their language. Emojis ensure that your brand isn’t just a text-based beast; it’s everywhere, understood by everyone, and – crucially – it’s easily communicated too.
Inserting a smiley face, devil, dancing lady or any other kind of emoji conveys a level of emotion that text alone can’t.
Even corporate websites can use emojis. They will help the user build a more personal impression of you and even show you to be more approachable, gaining you more business.
Muted Colors and Ultra Vibrant Colors
When it comes to color, 2021 is a blend of two extremes. One trend suggests that muted colors are the thing, whereas the other tends toward more vibrant colors – the brighter, the better. So which is it?
As with many things in life, it’s both. Whether you opt for bright and vibrant colors or prefer more muted tones, you can be on-trend in terms of what 2021 is asking of you.
After all, the Pantone color of the year is bright yellow and gray, and if that isn’t the perfect encapsulation of the situation, we don’t know what is.
As long as your general brand is in line with the color palette you have chosen for your website design, you can look professional, stylish, and up to date.
Geometric patterns are essentially an assemblage of shapes that repeat, sometimes in a slightly altered way, to create one whole design.
They are pleasing to the eye and, because they are ordered and neat, they denote professional working ethics to many people.
Examples of geometric shapes that you can use within these patterns include triangles, squares, circles, and hexagons.
So what could make geometric patterns such a top trend for 2021?
Let’s think about it logically.
- They represent order.
- They are predictable.
- They are trustworthy.
- They are easy to look at and deal with.
After the confusion and chaos that was 2020, it makes a lot of sense that we would be looking for geometry to keep us centered and focused this year.
When you contrast the trend for geometric patterns with 2019, you’ll see a huge difference. In 2019, which probably seems like a long time ago now, the trend was much more asymmetrical when it came to patterns.
Asymmetry is not predictable, nor does it follow a specific pattern. It may not be random as such, but it’s heading in that direction.
It looks beautiful, of course, with its fluid movement and soft edges, but it’s clear to see why we’ve moved away from this idea and started to use something more angular and tidy.
As for which is best overall, there is certainly something comforting about geometric shapes and the graphic patterns they can offer up. You know where you are with them. It’s a trend we’re glad to see.
Neomorphism and Parallax Scrolling
Unlike many other trends on this list, neomorphism became popular in 2020 and has remained popular in 2021. Alexander Plyuto created the design below in 2019, sharing it on Dribbble and causing quite a stir.
Creating a user interface that essentially looks ‘real’ or at least mimics items that you can find in the real world rather than digital is the basis behind this specific trend.
Neomorphism offers up the sense of 3D design but uses flat images to achieve the look. The best way to create a neomorphic design is to use strategic placement of shadows to show the principles of 3D work without using it.
Neomorphism looks as though it’s here to stay, for the moment at least. This is most likely because it is comforting and familiar, and yet it’s not quite as ‘out there and bold’ as skeuomorphism, which it replaces.
Some people found that this trend was inaccessible because it was created using color applications rather than authentic 3D images. Yet with a good muted color palette, as we’ve discussed, it can work rather well.
Parallax scrolling is when background images on your website move slower than the foreground images, creating a 3D scrolling effect. It can be used occasionally to create a distinctive website with some elements of depth.
Micro-animations are, as the name might suggest, small animations. These animations might be small, but they can be beneficial when it comes to the general UX of your website.
Get your micro-animations right, and you’ll have visitors returning to your site and telling others about it.
Micro-animations have been used for several years now, but in 2021 web designers will use them in a much more organic way. Animation doesn’t have to be zany.
In other words, rather than being something added to the page to make it different, it will be used to enhance the UI and look as though it was always meant to be there.
You might use micro-animations in your eCommerce store to show people your products in action, for example.
Micro-animations can be subtle or much more noticeable, and it will depend on what you are trying to achieve as to what end of the scale you opt for. Button hovers, sprites, and characters that almost jump off the page are some ideas.
Minimalism and Flat Design
Minimalism is a design trend that looks like it will see us through to the next millennia, let alone through 2021.
A minimalist design for your website is not new, but it is something you’ll be seeing a lot more of as the year goes on.
Minimalist website design is about using only the most essential elements of the site and hiding everything else away – or doing away with it altogether, depending on your tendencies.
By using limited color palettes, uncomplicated fonts, clean lines and shapes, and – of course – utilizing the empty space, the site will be functional yet memorable.
This is especially true when compared to the bright and colorful sites that are also very popular.
One of the biggest positives when using a minimalist design is that it works on mobile and desktop devices without changing its look.
Whereas some more complex sites need to be entirely re-done for mobile purposes, you’ll find that minimalist design doesn’t require this. It just works as it is.
Minimalist sites are good for SEO too, loading faster, and sending a signal to Google that you’re on top of the technical experience factors for your site.
If you want a responsive website, a minimalist design is a way to go. Your customers and visitors are certainly going to appreciate it. The simpler your site, the more likely it is that someone will buy from you.
Minimalist design can use color as long as you limit the palette to three shades. However, it has its own identity when it comes to dark mode, and that identity tends to be black and white.
Dark mode is sleek, sophisticated, perhaps even more grown-up than other design ideas. Whether you are designing an app or a website, it’s always a good move to make the UX feel just a little more classy.
In dark mode, the background color is black, gray, or another dark shade.
This is what shapes the rest of the site, and your brand identity should match the look you’ve given it.
Dark mode has been proclaimed as the savior for tired eyes since there’s no blue light being emitted from your device, but the most recent studies have shown that this kind of light isn’t as harmful to the eyes as once thought.
According to AAOP, the harmful effects on our eyes are caused more by how we use our devices, not the blue light itself.
Companies like to make claims that dark mode is better for your eyes, but in most cases, it’s just pure marketing. The dark mode is cool and popular, but is it actually better for your eyes? In reality, it comes down to the individual.
If you believe that you fall asleep better when you have your device in the dark mode, then go ahead with this configuration. If not, just turn down the brightness of your blue-lit screen and put down your device an hour or so before bed.
Just by glancing through the various trends they are talking about and the list we have put together above, you should get an idea of just what the web visitors of 2021 really want.